Introductions and Philosophy
(This morning we welcome a new member to the MGC family. Cedar Sanderson is a woman of many talents and she has almost as many voices talking in her head, demanding their stories be written as we do — well, maybe not as many as Sarah. Cedar will be doing Saturday posts for us. The review posts will continue once a month as well. So help us welcome Cedar and give her a warm MGC welcome.)
Hi, my name is Cedar, and I’m not sure how I ended up here… Actually, it involved Sarah and Amanda getting me alone, and with this look of glee on Amanda’s face, asking me to become the latest Mad Genius. Of course I said yes! It only dawned on me that evening that I had not asked when they wanted me to start, or what I’m supposed to say, or… ah, the details in life will get you.
I spent yesterday in the Bedford Library Writer’s Workshop with Sarah and Amanda teaching, which is an amazing experience. They pace while talking, and switch off sentences like racers with a baton. They don’t pace on the same track, but in a long figure eight like an infinity sign. And while they do that, they are pouring out the collected years of learning about writing, and even more, the business of writing.
Because writing is a business. I started writing back a few years, shortly after the birth of my first daughter, and she is fourteen now, so it has been longer than I thought. I fell in with good company, and would up part of an online writing group mentored by Sarah Hoyt and Dave Freer. At the time, I had read and loved Dave’s work, but had no idea what Sarah had written. Over the years I would correct that, but I also picked up a lot about the publishing industry listening to them, and others in Baen’s Bar. As a result, and due to life, I stopped writing much, and decided I would never try to be published.
Back in 2009, I learned one of the great writing lessons the hard way. Stress suppresses creativity. I discovered this by entering a time in life where I wasn’t as stressed and unhappy any longer, and it was like taking the lid off. I couldn’t help writing. I started writing for my children, because they were now old enough to read, and over the course of a couple of years of false starts, created Vulcan’s Kittens, a YA novel (and a bunch of short stories, but more about those later).
Now I come back to the writing is a business statement, which you thought I lost way back up there, didn’t you? For twelve years I ran a small entertainment business. I still run a spin-off of that business, which is now a micro-business. During those years, I taught myself, or took classes, how to run a business, do sales and negotiations, and marketing. As a result, when I finally decided to publish, I was already looking at writing as a business, and was rather surprised to find out how many authors do not consider themselves businessmen. I’m not unfamiliar with the concept, my other industry is full of artists who struggle with how to handle business. When I started blogging about a year ago now, I knew I would be talking about not only writing, independent publishing, but just plain and simple business.
I did decide to independently publish Vulcan’s Kittens, and my second novel Pixie Noir (which is definitely NOT a young adult title) will be released in December. My short stories are already coming to life online, with Naked Reader Press, Stonycroft Publishing, and Something Wicked. For me, the short stories are not an income source, but a fundamental business tool. I am using them as loss leaders, setting them out into the cold world as a way of getting my brand recognition started. Each of us as writers need to remember that what we are selling isn’t an individual book, series, or story. We are selling ourselves. Our name, or names if you use a penname, are our brands. The more often a reader sees that name, the more likely they are to remember it. This can be both good and bad, something I will likely discuss in a longer post, as this one is getting rather long (and the other Mad geniuses just told me I’d do fine when I asked about length).
Sarah said yesterday in the workshop that there are two possible tracks to becoming an author. One is for the affirmation, and the other is for the money. Looking at it from the business side, you could say that when an author chooses the path to affirmation, likely in the publishing industry today there will be some money, but not a lot. Also, largely, that writer will not have to deal with being a businessman. Maybe an easier road, but not, in my opinion, as satisfying a one. I took the money path, because I have a very long term goal with my writing. Sure, I want the affirmation, I love hearing people tell me they have read my work and enjoy it. But my writing is my retirement plan.
I’ve been self employed for so long, and even though I’m now in school for a career, it is highly unlikely I will ever be able to tap into the American dream (growing ever more hazy) of retiring from working and having a stream of income to count on. Unless I take care of that myself. So in thirty years, when I have some thirty to forty novels and who knows how many short stories, I will have an income. Independently publishing allows me to assure that my books will not fall out of print and as an early e-reader, I well understand the value of making DRM-free ebooks readily available.
Does this make me a hack? You betcha, and red-headed hacks unite! Now that I have met the other ones, we can form an evil writing consortium and muahaha!
Not really. My personal honor dictates that I write the best possible product for my readers, and I hope I’m succeeding there. It also means I am never going to be one of those people who says “buy my book” over and over in all the social interwebs. For one thing, that doesn’t work, except to disrupt your potential relationship with readers, and for another, I like my readers, and hate spam as much as the rest of them (unless it’s fried crispy with a little fresh pineapple).
Oh, but I will say, this one time, that I do have a blog elsewhere, and there are links to my books on it. There’s even free fiction there from time to time, as I learned at the knee of the master, Jim Baen, “the first one’s free…”
Don’t forget to check out Cedar’s Amazon page. Or check out these titles or any of her others:
12-year-old Linnea Vulkane is looking forward to a long, lazy summer on Grandpa Heph’s farm, watching newborn kittens grow up and helping out with chores. That all goes out the window the night Mars, god of war, demands her grandfather abandon her and return to Olympus for the brewing war.
Now Old Vulcan is racing around the world and across higher planes with Sehkmet to gather allies, leaving Linn and an old immortal friend to protect the farm and the very special litter. But even the best wards won’t last forever, and when the farm goes up in flames, she is on the run with a daypack, a strange horse, a sword, and an armful of kittens. Linn needs to grow up fast and master her powers, before the war finds the unlikely refugees…
Duty brought Lia to the backwater planet. Honor bound her to fulfill the promise she made to Daz before his death to see his daughter, Serene, safely away and enrolled at the Academy. Neither expected their trip to be interrupted by distress signals, abandoned ships and space pirates.